Sodium chloride is the main ingredient in many of the most popular salt-based ice melting products on the market like Safe Step 8300 and Road Runner ice melt. While these rock salt products melt ice at moderately cold temperatures, they present two significant concerns.
Dangers of Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt
First, magnesium chloride (MgCl2) does work in extreme cold. When the temperature drops below about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the melting process slows significantly and may stop entirely. In other words, you must wait a long time before the salted area is safe to walk on or drive on. Your waiting will be in vain in very cold weather and, in fact, might pose a danger if you believe the ground is safe yet it remains covered in ice and very slippery.
The second reason to avoid MgCl2 products is that they are dangerous to pets, children, wildlife and adults too. The Material Safety Data Sheet for magnesium chloride lists many harmful effects including:
Eye irritation and burn from contact
Skin irritation and burn (including in the mouth and throat) when touched or ingested
Gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when ingested
Respiratory irritation when MgCl2 dust is inhaled
Metal fume fever when inhaled or ingested that causes flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, cough, weakness, chest and muscle pain and increased white blood cell count
Think about dangers to your pets. Simply walking on an area that has been salted exposes them to all the above! The salt will contact the skin on their paws. If they scratch or rub their face, it will get in their eyes. Animals like the taste of salt, and if they ingest it, serious illness will result. Extreme exposure is fatal.
Think about dangers to young children. Kids often put things in their mouth from the ground, and if they taste something salty, they’re likely to continue. The Illinois Poison Control (IPC) blog says about salt-based ice melt including magnesium chloride, “Always call the IPC if your kiddo samples some of this stuff.” Less dangerous consequences of contact for kids are the same as those for pets: irritation of the skin, eyes, mouth and throat and stomach upset.
These dangers are present too for wildlife such as squirrels, birds and many other animals known to ingest salt when they find it. Finally, the person doing the salting is at risk for skin contact and inhalation of magnesium chloride dust found in every bag or bucket of the product.
Note: Veterinarians and pediatricians warn that the dangers are much the same for other common ice melt products including sodium chloride, calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate.
Safe Ice Melt Alternatives that are More Effective Too
Once you decide to avoid salt-based ice melting products, the question is obvious: Is there a safe alternative to rock salt?
Yes! The good news is that there is a product with a patented blend of ingredients that is both safe to use and more effective for melting ice than magnesium chloride and other salt-based options.
Safe Paw is the only ice melt product of its kind on the market, and it meets the stringent requirements of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice Standard Award for ecological friendliness. This means that Safe Paw ice melt won’t harm you, your pets, children, wildlife or the larger environment including your lawn and plants. Another great product to consider is Traction Magic, while not an ice melter it works instantly and will get your car out of ice in an emergency situation.
How does Safe Paw work? This blend contains two ice-fighting ingredients, each with a unique purpose. The patented outer core liquefies immediately when contacting the ice and begins to melt and break up its surface. This allows the crystalline amide core to penetrate deep into the ice to complete the melting process.
Safe Paw’s proprietary formula also contains glycol, widely used to thaw ice and prevent further freezing. Therefore, it not only melts existing ice, Safe Paw coats the surface to inhibit ice from forming the next time bad weather strikes.
Safe Paw is effective to a lower temperature, -2F, than magnesium chloride (+15F) and some other salt-based products (+20F to +24F). Plus, unlike rock salt, it is completely safe and won’t harm the environment.
If you are looking for an ice melt you can use with complete peace of mind, Safe Paw is the right choice for pets, people and the planet.